Haus der Natur

The gemstone of the rainbow

It is widely known that Salzburg lies in scenic, fairytale surroundings. It is probably less well known that tourmaline crystals are found in Salzburg’s rocks – also known as the gemstone of the rainbow. On display at the Haus der Natur in Salzburg.

There are interesting mineral sites all over Austria. The Pinzgau region with the Hohe Tauern (80-100 kilometres south of Salzburg) is the most mineral-rich region in the country. Tourmalines are sought-after gemstones with an extraordinary wealth of colours and shapes. Today, more than 40 different tourmalines are known in all conceivable colours, which is why tourmaline is also called the “gemstone of the rainbow”.

The tourmaline mineral “Schörl”, the most common tourmaline found in Austria, is itself black and inconspicuous. Its beauty is only revealed under the microscope: when the crystals are cut into wafer-thin platelets, microstructures of captivating precision and colour brilliance are revealed. No other stone has a greater variety of colours than tourmaline.

When looking at these cuts, images arise in the mind’s eye that are reminiscent of paintings by Salvador Dalí or psychedelic trips – each individual cut different. The exhibition at the Haus der Natur is an aesthetic expedition into the inner life of black tourmaline crystals – and into one’s own imagination.

In the House of Nature you can set off on many other expeditions: On more than 7000m², the museum shows, among other things, a space exhibition, an aquarium and a science centre over three floors. You can learn a lot about Salzburg’s history here, for example about the course of the river Salzach, which was the city’s lifeline for centuries.

With the new permanent exhibition Evolution Mensch&Vielfalt (Evolution Man & Diversity), one of the major topics in biology will be moving permanently into the Haus der Natur on 1 June – evolution. It vividly tells of the developments that life has taken on our planet. And that we humans are part of a great diversity. Built from the same components as all living things and developed through evolution. The Haus der Natur offers a varied museum visit for which you can easily plan a day.

The exhibition Crystal Magic – Fascinating Worlds in Dark Tourmalines can be seen at the Haus der Natur until 8.01.2023. Museumsplatz 5, daily 9 am to 5 pm. One-off free admission with the Salzburg Card.

Published 30. May 2022Updated 4. August 2022
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